Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) attention has been drawn to a press statement from the Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC) Mr. T. Muguti announcing that the Provincial Development Directorate in the Harare Metropolitan Province had resolved that all occupants of road servitudes have until 7th of June 2021 to vacate and remove all property and destroy any infrastructure erected on road servitudes. Amongst those affected are informal traders in furniture making, sand, brick and quarry traders as well as car sales.
VISET views this directive as problematic on many fronts. The time given from issuance of the statement to implementation is too short, considering that traders need to find alternative places of operation, which will require applications of trade. Most of these operators have been paying fees to council officials and are in possession of leases. It is scant comfort that the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) will deal with corrupt officials who authorized these leases. This in our view is similar to the kid gloves approach employed on land barons where house owners had their dwellings demolished with no compensation and to date no land baron has been convicted.
VISET exhorts the PDC to exercise restraint in implementation of these measures to give time to a phased approach that allows for regularisation and relocations to take place without loss of property. It is prudent to note that the entire informal sector is emerging from a prolonged lockdown period that decimated the little earnings they had and that now is a time for compassion to allow recovery to take place.
We also urge local authorities to speedily complete and develop alternative markets so as to house traders who yearn for safe, secure and healthy stations of work. It should be stated that it is not any vendor’s desire to risk life and limb by trading at roadsides, but rather necessity and lack of alternatives.